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Affordable housing definition should include social rent

Words: Laura Edgar
Affordable housing definition should include social homes / Shutterstock_176229827

The Local Government Association (LGA) has said that the definition of affordable housing in the updated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) must include homes for social rent.

This would help to tackle the low number of social rented homes across the country, explained the representative body for councils in England and Wales.

It noted that in the revised draft NPPF, the reference to social homes had been removed from the government’s definition of affordable homes while it includes “starter homes and other, less genuinely affordable, forms of housing”.

Judith Blake, housing spokesperson for the LGA, said: “Councils are determined to ensure that their residents have access to affordable housing. By removing social rent from the definition of affordable housing, the government has effectively removed the tool to help that happen.

“The country needs to be building approximately 300,000 homes a year of all types and tenure to address our housing shortage. It’s essential that the government ensures social rent is included in the definition of affordable housing in the upcoming changes to planning policy, but more widely, the imminent social housing green paper is a real opportunity to give councils the tools they need to trigger the renaissance in council housebuilding we desperately need.”

She explained that all councils should be able to borrow to build, rather than just a select few. Last week, housing secretary James Brokenshire invited local authorities to bid for a share of £1 billion extra borrowing to build council homes. The money will be allocated to areas that have the highest affordability pressures to “ensure homes are built where they are most needed”, he said.

Blake continued: “In addition, councils should be able to keep 100 per cent of the receipts of the homes that are sold and adapt discounts locally to ensure a steady supply of genuinely affordable homes in the area.”

Tomorrow, the LGA will publish Housing, Planning and Homelessness at its annual conference in Birmingham. The report, the LGA said, sets out how the government can use its green paper to empower councils to build.

In its response to the consultation on the changes to the NPPF, the RTPI said the continued definition of affordable housing for rent as only 20 per cent less than market rent “is still not satisfactory”. It should be widened to allow development by a wider range of organisations to include those that have a legal entity and whose purposes include providing affordable housing, such as Community Land Trusts.

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